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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] WildStar: Is a 'Sandpark' Even Possible?

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65 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16278

OP  1/14/13 10:34:30 AM#1

On one side, we have theme park fans. On the other, we have sandbox fans. Which side deserves the most attention? Carbine Studios thinks that both do and are aiming to create a "sandpark" game with WildStar. Check out our thoughts on the issue and then join the conversation in the comments.

One of the things that Carbine Studios is aiming to do with WildStar is to create the first true hybrid between the theme park MMO and the sandbox MMO. What remains to be seen is whether or not that can actually happen or not. What I really want to know is if such a thing is even possible and, if it is, will either side ever be truly happy?

Read more of Suzie Ford's WildStar: Is a 'Sandpark' Even Possible?

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/28/06
Posts: 1687

1/14/13 2:21:05 PM#2
A true sandpark is possible, pleasing -everyone- isn't and never will be with anything, ever. I firmly believe sandparks are the direction of the genre for the most part going forward. I'm hard pressed to enjoy sandbox only games for a long period of time, but then I'm hard pressed to stick with a themepark only game for a long time these days. The hybrid of the two is something I think is going to be necessary in order to keep players around for the long term. But there's always going to be people who are unhappy about everything, and they tend to be the most vocal individuals within the gaming communities, so I don't believe that will ever change.

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/22/12
Posts: 372

1/14/13 2:38:47 PM#3
I get a very Guild Wars 2 feel from this. For me, that's not a good thing. I will see how it plays out though.

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/28/06
Posts: 2209

1/14/13 3:02:39 PM#4

The thing about meshing the two? Personally, it could be a brilliant move. I'm the type of player who adores good quality scripted content, but the problem with many MMOs is that the journey comes to an end. What Carbine seems intent on doing is setting us on that epic adventure, while also ensuring that there are other things for us to do once we hit that wall at the "endgame". That's precisely what many themepark MMOs are lacking. If they can do it, I'll be happy.  

The problem with all themepark MMOs is that the rides get old, and waiting for new ones is not something I'm content to pay for. If an MMO wants us to stick around for a length of time, it needs both quality new content on a regular basis, and systems that support players becoming invested in the world and their characters (lateral progression, housing, customization, personalization, world changing). It sounds like Carbine understands this.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/21/04
Posts: 8079

Logic be damned!

1/14/13 3:05:23 PM#5

I think it's possible - but as with all things, the devil's in the details.

Each "path" has to be meaningul and fun in its own way.

I've probably been lurking for way, way too long.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/13/12
Posts: 136

1/14/13 3:07:39 PM#6
Sandbox mmo = Future

Carbine Studios

Joined: 1/14/13
Posts: 62

1/14/13 3:10:45 PM#7

Internally at Carbine we're starting to use the term "Modern Playground" for WildStar as opposed to either Theme Park or Sandbox:

    There are a number of things you can do near each other.  These can interact with each other.

    Some of those things are literally (figurative) sandboxes (metaphysical awesomesauce there).

    There are occasionally events that happen that tie everyone in the area together

    The playground is an environment in which fun happens - but you get to choose what you play, and if you are going to use it for it's "intended" purpose.

   Friends in the area change the interaction with everything.

I'll probably do a more full writeup in a dev blog or some such as we formalize it, but the short form is that we're really interested in the mix of making the most fun "playspace" possible, for each individual area of the game.  For us, the environment, or battlefield is one of the combatants in fights and quests in the area  -  sometimes helping, sometimes challenging, but something that makes each area feel a bit unique. 

Just a thought -


(Executive Producer for Carbine, yadda yadda)

Jeremy Gaffney
Executive Producer, Carbine Studios (Wildstar Online)


Elite Member

Joined: 2/17/07
Posts: 2290

NGE, LOTRO, STO, KOTOR, Lego Star Wars > NGE 2 (SWTOR). SWG>ALL. Above hopefully subject to change.

1/14/13 3:11:51 PM#8
The twee graphics are putting me off, and sandbox games are meant to provide longevity, but with NC Soft they rarely let you, so giving this game a complete miss.

Novice Member

Joined: 9/17/05
Posts: 179

1/14/13 3:14:35 PM#9
Star Wars Galaxies became a Sandpark game. A large sandbox game filled with smaller themeparks and story arcs. 


Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/12
Posts: 189

1/14/13 3:17:49 PM#10

"Clearly Carbine thinks that WildStar can be all things to all players"

That rings alarm bells.

"It's a sandbox, if you are not willing to create a castle then all you have is sand" - jtcgs


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/04
Posts: 1843

1/14/13 3:38:56 PM#11

Can there be a hybrid? Yes. And it can be done well.

Can there be a game that makes gamers happy? No. Nothing will ever make everyone happy. But a game can make MANY gamers happy.

A hybrid only needs to make the MAIN world a sandbox, be large and complete sandbox with no story or even level based. Have the "park" part of the game outside the main world that can be enter via portals.

Main world open, themepark instanced outside the main world.

“I hope we shall its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  MikeB Community Manager

Joined: 5/27/09
Posts: 5627

1/14/13 3:39:35 PM#12
Originally posted by DaGaffer

Internally at Carbine we're starting to use the term "Modern Playground" for WildStar as opposed to either Theme Park or Sandbox:

    There are a number of things you can do near each other.  These can interact with each other.

    Some of those things are literally (figurative) sandboxes (metaphysical awesomesauce there).

    There are occasionally events that happen that tie everyone in the area together

    The playground is an environment in which fun happens - but you get to choose what you play, and if you are going to use it for it's "intended" purpose.

   Friends in the area change the interaction with everything.

I'll probably do a more full writeup in a dev blog or some such as we formalize it, but the short form is that we're really interested in the mix of making the most fun "playspace" possible, for each individual area of the game.  For us, the environment, or battlefield is one of the combatants in fights and quests in the area  -  sometimes helping, sometimes challenging, but something that makes each area feel a bit unique. 

Just a thought -


(Executive Producer for Carbine, yadda yadda)

Thanks for dropping by, Jeremy!

Michael "MikeB" Bitton
Community Manager
Twitter: @eMikeB


Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/11
Posts: 29

1/14/13 3:42:16 PM#13

A lot of people talk about sandbox vs themepark and how sandbox is what is now needed in an MMO, however with a sandbox style MMO's you really have no sense of direction and never will by the developer. You will have to figure everything out on your own and what to do next is up to you. Sounds great right, not so much when you are actually playing for the first time and running around trying to find some one with a quest to give you or some kind of hint or direction to go in. Themepark style does get old and boring if you're on the same ride over and over again. I think a "sandpark" is the best of both worlds that MMO companies need to focus on.

I still think that it can be done where the developer has their theme park quests, players can also create quest for other players, such as I need 40 light leather, so I will make 2 quests of gathering 20 light leathers and in return I will pay you or give you an item and since its a gathering quest make the XP based on zones to gather in or you can have a quest that helps you run dungeons or for world bosses. There is also mercenary quests and pvp bounty quests again all player created and still have the NPC quests as well, this is just an example.  Having lateral proression such as housing, halls, crafting discovery, and so forth is also a needed piece of the MMO puzzle.

A huge problem themepark MMO's face is they cannot produce content quick enough and eventually players look to the next thrill ride. Having some content player created or lateral progression will help those between times of waiting on content.



Joined: 6/30/09
Posts: 256

1/14/13 3:43:26 PM#14
Nice Jeremy!

Novice Member

Joined: 8/28/05
Posts: 675

1/14/13 3:45:18 PM#15
Are sandbox people ever happy?  Don't they just point to a game in the past as a great sandbox, but nothihng currrent is ever good enough?

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2439

1/14/13 3:50:58 PM#16
I'm all for dropping tired terms like themepark, sandbox, and especially sandpark if we can just get an MMO to actually redefine the next direction of MMOs. Wildstar, make it happen.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/11
Posts: 29

1/14/13 4:03:32 PM#17
posted twice :(

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/06/12
Posts: 262

1/14/13 4:06:22 PM#18

I will be surprised if they can actually pull it off.

Pleasantly surprised, but surprised none the less.

I like what they have had to say about the game, (quester/settler/ ect.) I just don't feel there is enough info available on how that is going to all tie together. If most people do the quests, then what is so special about the quester?  If you are not an explorer then should you bother to look in that cave over there? If yes, then why be an explorer? 

There are more questions than answers as far as I am concerened right now. Lots of talk but very little actual information.   Like, they talked about housing, but does anyone know if it is instanced? As far as I know the only info is that rockets will launch earth up in the sky, but that doesn't tell you if it is instanced or not even though there was a whole big reveal on housing. Which just leads me into my next question, why play a settler if everyone gets housing, and its in an instance. 

Too many things not adding up here to me.


( Note to self-Don't say anything bad about Drizzt.)

An acerbic sense of humor is NOT allowed here.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/31/06
Posts: 2115

1/14/13 4:54:22 PM#19
I believe a main motivation and aspect of sandbox is immersion, I know in the past with classic sandbox games there wasn't the tech to support graphical immersion, but there is today.  Using pixar style graphics is not the way to get there. 

Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 7141

1/14/13 5:02:44 PM#20
Originally posted by mmoguy43
I'm all for dropping tired terms like themepark, sandbox, and especially sandpark if we can just get an MMO to actually redefine the next direction of MMOs. Wildstar, make it happen.

They don't need to redefine it for the entire genre.  They just need to draw their own definition for their own game.  Let the industry do with that what they will.  Developers and gamers alike need to stop taking the pulse of industry definitions and return to making their own games.  Once we stop trying to shoehorn everything into neat little boxes maybe we can look at what we have and where we're at and take things as they are.


@Jeremy - Interesting post.  I like that you're using the term modern playground.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

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